Defy the Dogma: Unconventional Leadership & Extraordinary Results
By: Sean J. Mahoney, SITE Past President 2010
Sean J. Mahoney is the Chief Executive Officer of Blue Carrot Consultants, LLC., providing business management and leadership coaching to professionals in the luxury, hospitality and performance improvement sectors. He is widely regarded as a thought leader and industry advocate by a global network of professionals who buy, supply and support the use of meetings and events as a management tool. Sean frequently contributes to a variety of business and trade publications and has been a featured speaker at business events around the world, including the United States, United Arab Emirates, Europe, China and Australia.
Sean’s initial involvement in SITE included successful leadership efforts at the local level with the SITE Florida and Caribbean Chapter, where he helped to build one of the association's largest chapters and was recognized as a SITE Member and Chapter of the Year for his achievement. He served on the SITE International Board of Directors for six years, including four years on the Executive Committee and a term as President in 2010.
Since resigning from Silversea Cruises in September last year, I committed to a brief sabbatical (aka. very expensive vacation) to "reset", find my “center”, reconnect with loved ones, disconnect from others (smile)...while taking a very deliberate approach to the next move in my career. I'm holding out for a special role that will allow me to leverage unique skills and experiences, hone others, and more importantly...to make a positive contribution to the lives of those around me as well as the organization.
Having spent most of my career in the incentive travel industry, I’ve benefited from the “collateral learning” that occurs from working closely with “performance improvement and customer loyalty” experts and Fortune 1000 partners. Numerous studies demonstrate the long-term benefits of effective “engagement” strategies, the least of which is an “emotional connection” to the team, company, product, service, etc., contributing to “incremental” results.
“Brand" and "people" are, or should be, the most valuable assets in any organization. To be successful, leaders need to focus less on the “passion” for their role or company and more on the “compassion” required to inspire results. Most important, leaders must be willing to allocate “real” resources to the effort to successfully get the entire team aligned within the culture, whereby resources are judged, implemented, prioritized and managed as “investments” or matters of human capital and/or social responsibility versus “expenses” or “commodities”. Exponential growth and success can only occur when an organization commits to truly “engage” its employees, dealers, distributors, customers, etc.
A few courageous and “dogma defying” corporations have already figured it out. They start by creating a work environment and culture to attract and retain talented employees. They rely less on institutional and conventional job criteria and more on criteria to identify less traditional but infinitely more remarkable candidates possessing a unique “mind set” (vs. “skill set”). They actively recruit the best candidates (not the best available), then make them an asset by “treating them like one” and increasing the overall “intellectual capital” within the company. Products and service may distinguish one company from another…but highly engaged and motivated “people” will embrace and champion the vision, creativity, plans, processes, systems and infrastructure, resulting in “extraordinary” results.
I’m often asked to what I attribute my success when speaking at an industry event. I begin my response by acknowledging there is no one “recipe” for success and that in my case, it took some luck (right place at the right time), networking (who you know vs. what you know), humility (characterized by treating others how I wish to be treated), and an insatiable appetite to engage and learn from “everyone” around me regardless of their role, title, etc.
Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to meet others that are much smarter, articulate, creative, and hardworking than me. I’ve also endured some awful working relationships and “chose” to learn from them as well, rather than give them power to negatively influence my attitude, behavior or performance. The greatest factor in my success, however, is an intimate “self-awareness” possessed of the courage to “own” and mitigate my weaknesses…clearing the way for true professional or personal growth and development. An unforeseen benefit of which, is the ability to connect with others more meaningfully by accepting and/or forgiving their transgressions, and collaborating to address them.
About SITE’s Journey:
SITE's Journey is a digital compendium of our association’s history told through the eyes of the leaders who founded and led the organization since its inception in 1973. As you page through the history, you'll see how world events impacted our growth, membership and activities. Even during difficult times, the SITE Board of Directors, Foundation Trustees, headquarters staff, chapters and members all worked tirelessly to keep SITE strong and continuing to contribute value to the global business community.